Some like to joke with me about running for office, but this piece in the NYT confirmed what I already know, which is the insanity of what they call “diplomacy”–that is the game of being a politican. This article on newly elected Senator Jim Webb is telling, to say the least. Some say he is breaching White House manners–why you might ask? Because when Bush asked how his son was doing in Iraq, Webb he said he wanted to get him out and Bush responded, that’s not what I asked.
Well, Washington is left in a tizzy…not just damn, but hot damn.
In case we need a reminder why working for change is hard in this country–oh right, there’s the right time and place. Some bullshit…and yes, I’m a call it like it is, some bullshit. And yes, that is eloquent, and I’d say, rather diplomatic.
Because it’s no wonder why we’re all so screwed when silencing and subordination is called diplomacy and we’re all asked to dance and smile, show face for the sake of diplomatic White House styles. All lies and games in times of warfare now, no truth telling to the President–that’s just deemed improper.
Now go ahead and act right! You know, we all need some order…
Go ahead and read this mess for yourself.
The exchange had some people in Washington tut-tutting that the new senator who campaigned in his son’s combat boots would have a lot of learnin’ to do about the rules of polite Washington society — never mind that Mr. Webb had served as secretary of the Navy, an institution built on protocol, in the Reagan White House.
The Post, looking at how his “brash, unpolished style” might test the limits, noted that on “Meet the Press” “he dispensed with the normal banter with host Tim Russert to talk seriously about Iraq and the need for economic justice in the United States.” Imagine!
“I’m surprised and offended by Jim Webb,” said Stephen Hess, the author of “The Little Book of Campaign Etiquette” and a professor at George Washington University. “If you accept somebody’s invitation, you’re expected to respond in socially acceptable ways. Why go to be rude? Is it so awful to be polite?
“He was secretary of the Navy, for heaven’s sake!”
Others laid the blame on Mr. Bush, believing he should not have sought out Mr. Webb, and not been short with him in response.
“It was an uncivil reply to an uncivil remark,” said Letitia Baldrige, a doyenne of Washington manners, calling the whole thing “a sad exchange.”
And even Mr. Hess had to admit the president was “a little snippy” in his response.
It’s true that Washington is a place predicated on protocol: where to stand, what to wear, what to say (or not to), and how to pretend to like people you don’t. You can attack someone on television, but in the receiving line — which Mr. Webb declined to go through — you’re supposed to smile as you clasp hands.
Nancy Pelosi, the speaker-elect, campaigned against the president with sharp elbows, but she knew enough to cross her ankles and smile about extending “the hand of friendship” when the president invited her to lunch once her party won.
The leader of the Senate Democrats, Harry Reid, likewise called the president a liar in the campaign, but sat beside him and smiled for the cameras after.
The smallest deviation can upset the perceived order.
And don’t you just love the sexism of this story: “Nancy Pelosi, the speaker-elect, campaigned against the president with sharp elbows, but she knew enough to cross her ankles and smile about extending “the hand of friendship” when the president invited her to lunch once her party won.” — Yes, they really wrote cross her ankles. Hot damn again.